Unemployment Compensation in Texas

The issue of unemployment compensation in Texas is important to you if you live and work in Texas, and you have been laid off, unfairly terminated or forced to quit. You or a friend or loved one may be having trouble getting the unemployment compensation benefits that you believe you are entitled to, right now. 

It is important that you know and understand what unemployment insurance is. Unemployment Insurance (UI) is an employer-paid insurance program that helps workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. It provides temporary financial help to qualified individuals while they are looking for other work. The amount is based on your previous earnings. Employer taxes and reimbursements support the Unemployment Trust Fund. Employers are not allowed to deduct any money from your employee paychecks to pay for this program. 

Unemployment compensation came about to help able-bodied workers who had become involuntarily unemployed to provide a minimal livelihood until they were once again employed. The first unemployment compensation law was signed in Wisconsin, in 1932. 

The first national unemployment compensation law came, along with other welfare programs, in the Social Security Act of 1935. This act has been amended many times since then. By 1994, more than 96% of all workers were covered by unemployment insurance. Each state in the United States has its own unemployment insurance law. Each state operates its own unemployment compensation program.   

In October, 1936, the Texas legislature passed the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act. This act accepted the unemployment insurance provisions of the Social Security Act of 1935 and established the Texas Unemployment Compensation Commission. Taxes on covered employers payrolls began on January 1, 1936, and payments to covered eligible workers were effective January 1, 1938. 

The Texas Unemployment Compensation Act has been amended several times since 1936. The last time it was amended was in 2008. 

The Texas Workforce Commission administers the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act, which is a part of the Texas Labor Code. It does so in accordance with federal unemployment compensation guidelines. 

It is important for you to realize that Texas is like many other states in that it views unemployment compensation as a temporary help to workers who are able to work, and who are searching for work. It is also well to remember that it is for workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. 

In order to receive unemployment compensation in Texas, there are qualifying requirements that you must meet in three areas. These areas are your past wages, job separation and ongoing availability and work search. You have to meet all of the requirements to receive benefits. 

The first area of eligibility is your past wages. Your have to have received enough wages to meet the requirements in order to establish a payable claim. The wages that have been paid to you during a recent 12 month period is called your base period. This amount is used to calculate your benefit amounts. Your weekly benefit amount will be between $58 and $392 depending upon the wages you earned during your base period. 

In order to have a payable claim, Texas law requires three things. These are: 

  • You have wages in at least two of the four base period calendar quarters being used
  • Your total base period wages are at least 37 times your weekly benefit amount
  • If you qualified for benefits on a prior claim, you must have earned 6 times your new weekly benefit amount since that time. 

The second area of eligibility requirement is your separation from your last work. You must be unemployed or partially unemployed through no fault of your own to receive benefits. If you quit your job, you should be prepared to present evidence that you tried to correct the problem before you quit. 

There are several reasons that qualify. Some examples of qualifying reasons are: 

  •          You were laid off due to lack of work.
  •          You were fired without work-related misconduct.
  •          You are still working but your employer has reduced your hours.
  •          You quit your job to protect yourself from stalking or family violence.
  •          You quit your job for a good well-documented medical or work-related reason. 

Falling under this heading are if you quit your job because of things like harassment, violence or discrimination, and your employer did not take any steps to correct these things. 

The third area of eligibility is the ongoing availability and work search requirements. During each week that you claim benefits, you have to: 

  • Be physically able to work
  • Be available for full-time work
  • Make an active search for full-time work
  • Be registered for work search online at www.texasworkforce.org
  • Apply for and accept suitable work
  • Call or report to a Texas Workforce Commission center as you are instructed. 

If you apply for unemployment compensation in Texas and are denied, you are allowed to appeal this decision. The first step in the appeals process is to make a request for a hearing. You have to file your signed appeal in writing with the Appeals Department in Austin.

There are three appeal levels in Texas. The first is an appeal to the Appeal Tribunal. The second step is an appeal to the Texas Workforce Commission. The third step is an appeal to a civil court. 

Most of the time this process is one in which you will not need a legal professional. However, if your employer disputes your unemployment claim, it can be a stressful situation in which you may need an attorney to help you get the unemployment benefits that you are entitled to. 

If this is the case with you or a friend or loved one, you may wonder how to choose the right attorney. Family attorneys and those who have a general law practice are excellent, but are they the right ones for a situation dealing with unemployment benefits?

You or your friend or loved one is probably going to need the help of an attorney who knows and specializes in employment law in Texas. You will probably need the representation of an employment attorney.

This is what employment attorneys do. They specialize in cases dealing with employment issues like unemployment compensation. These are the kind of cases they work with each and every day.

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